It’s been a week since the college basketball season ended after Colorado’s loss to Texas in the NIT quarterfinals (Texas easily won the NIT, btw). We have now had some time to step away from the season and look back at the best moments from an encouraging 2018-19.
10. Comeback win at New Mexico
Maybe if any of us remembered this game, it would be higher. But four months removed and the comeback win is still an impressive feat, especially considering this team rarely overcomes significant deficits as they did in this. I honestly have no idea why comebacks aren’t more common the Buffs given how many they allow to their opponents. Before this New Mexico game, what was the last major comeback win? Colorado State in 2015?
9. Evan Battey on the fast break
2019 will be remembered as our introduction to Evan Battey and his bountiful joys. There isn’t a singular highlight that demonstrates his ass commanding the paint, him creating from the high post, or him carving out the Black Canyon of the Gunnison with his post spin. However, there is a clip that shows Battey in all his grace and power.
This is for real what Taeshon Cherry saw when Evan Battey went for that fast break dunk— RalphieReport (@RalphieReport) February 14, 2019
Oh sorry, wrong video of a rumbling buffalo.
Harrowing footage of a full-grown male Buffalo trampling a human pic.twitter.com/Tnmzk986TC— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) February 14, 2019
8. McKinley Wright takes over to beat Arizona State
If we did this article for the 2017-18 Buffs, Wright’s heroics against then-No. 4 Arizona State would be in the top spot. ASU wasn’t nearly as good as they were last year, nor was this as crazy as a game as that overtime thriller, but the Sun Devils were still good enough to make the NCAA Tournament and win a game. Colorado’s 77-73 win over ASU — their second best of the season — wouldn’t have been possible without Kin showing out on both sides of the floor. He set the tone emotionally, scored a season-high 24 points, hit the dagger in the final minutes and held ASU star Remy Martin to just 9 points. He was everything for CU.
7. Daylen Kountz throws it down
One of the most exciting developments of the season was seeing the outline of a future two-way star in freshman Daylen Kountz. He barely saw the floor early in the year — possibly because Colorado recruits need some time to adjust to higher quality opponents — but Tad Boyle had to let him sink or swim once the rotation was beset by injuries. The stat sheet may not show it, but it was apparent that Kountz’s confidence grew almost every game as he realized he can be a dangerous slasher and disruptive perimeter defender (he and Eli Parquet will be terrifying together). Starting with a poster dunk at Washington State, he realized that it’s almost too easy for him to get steals, run in transition and throw it down on anyone.
6. “Pregnant with Threes”
It felt like a weird conundrum all season: Colorado had plenty of dangerous shooters, but they shot just 31% from 3 during Pac-12 play, second worst in the conference. As part of their cathartic sweep in Los Angeles, the Buffs let loose from deep to defeat UCLA, 84-73. Led by Shane Gatling’s 7 three-pointers, the Buffs shot 15 of 28 from beyond the arc, by far their best shooting night of the season. Tad Boyle let loose a classic quote after the game, “I said a couple weeks ago that it feels like we’re pregnant with threes. [Gatling] and [D’Shawn Schwartz] gave birth tonight.
5. “Big Game Alex”
In a year where Colorado lost five rotation players — Dallas Walton (ACL), Namon Wright (foot), Deleon Brown (academics), Eli Parquet (knee) and Lucas Siewert (lost in the wilds) — it required Tad Boyle to go into his reserves and pull out a cult hero. Alex Strating was never supposed to be more than a 10th man, but as the season progressed, he went from “The Buffs are in trouble if Strating has to play significant minutes” to “Good lord, Strating might win us a Pac-12 Tournament game.” Strating’s transformation to “Big Game Alex” started in a home loss to Oregon State and it peaked in their redemptive win over the Beavers in the Pac-12 Tournament.
4. Kin leads CU to win over Dayton in NIT
As I’m sure you know, McKinley Wright wasn’t supposed to come to Boulder. He was committed to Dayton, but decommitted when Archie Miller left for the prestigious Indiana job. In the first round of the NIT, Wright had to go up against his would-be teammates, his friends, his alternate universe. He looked tentative early on as CU struggled, but he found his confidence and preceded to lead the Buffs to a close, emotional win. This season wouldn’t have felt as encouraging without their two NIT wins and it wouldn’t have happened without Wright coming through.
3. Tyler Bey realizes he’s amazing, destroys Oregon
On February 2nd, 2019, Tyler Bey realized he can be the best player on the floor whenever he wants to be. After a game against Oregon State in which he disappeared (probably the main reason CU lost that game), Bey went up against Oregon with his sights set on ruining the day of each and every one of Dana Altman’s spoiled children. He put up a career-high 27 points and 10 rebounds, including 14 points and 6 rebounds in CU’s destructive 24-5 run to open the game. As he was scoring everything inside, hitting his silky mid-range jumper and locking down the defensive interior, it was clear he was the best player on the floor.
(I apologize on behalf of BuffsTV for being awful since Matt Sisneros left.)
2. Tad Boyle loses his shit after beating USC
Colorado’s sweep in Los Angeles concluded with a resounding win at USC. CU’s newfound rivalry is rooted mostly in Tad Boyle and Andy Enfield hating each other’s guts. Last year, Boyle called out Enfield saying that a win over USC would mean more considering the FBI investigations into their recruitment. Enfield responded by calling a timeout in the final minute of USC’s subsequent win, a calculated move to taunt Boyle and the Buffs. CU didn’t get their revenge that year, but they did in 2019. Boyle responded to the close road win by losing his goddamn mind. It was a reminder that he’s the rare coach who wears his emotions on his sleeves, backs up his honesty and expects the same accountability from his players.
1. Standing ovation for Evan Battey
Almost any other year would have had Tad losing his shit as the best moment, but this was the Year of Evan Battey, our introduction to the man who may graduate as the most universally beloved player since Chauncey Billups. Real recognizes real, which is why in Colorado’s final home, a packed CU Events Center gave Battey a standing ovation. Battey had just made an and-1 buzzer-beating layup, then when he walked over to the free throw line, he was alone on the court. The fans saw this as a chance to honor the amazing person and player Battey is, someone who has fought so hard and gone through so much to be where he is today. It was not just the best moment of the season, it was the best singular moment in recent memory.